Through all the ups and downs of church, one key factor that somehow ties everything together is the aspect of friends. Friends have an enormous impact on the individual person, especially in the teenage years. Friends can make or break a person. Friends effect decisions. They effect a person's attitude towards God, and what type of relationship a person should have with the church. What type of friends you have can change everything. When your friends love church, attend consistently, and volunteer their time to help, so will you. But if your friends text during service, mock the preacher, and never help out, chances are you won't either.
So what happens if your friends stop coming to church? In my experience, when a clique forms at church and then most of its members stop coming, the remaining few do as well. Its sad to have known a teenager or group of teens for so long and have poured so much into them to have them drop out of church. When a group of teens declines in attendance, others will follow. My youth group has seen this. At the start of February, we ranged from twenty to thirty students. But in February, many stopped coming, even those who has proclaimed to be Christians and had leadership positions. These teenagers, when recently asked why they rarely came, replied that their friends stopped coming, so they were discouraged and asked, If my friends stopped coming, why should I go?
Those of us left wondered what happened to our friends. Attendance was so low that ten students became unnaturally high. This urged a period of discouragement and disappointment on the youth pastor and his wife, and the leaders in the youth group. We wondered why we had worked so hard to just have them spit in our faces. And I do not say that lightly, for it is how it was. It was not a happy time for us, and those who left didn't care they had hurt us.
So I had to ask myself, What went wrong? Did the youth pastor did something to offend them, did I not talk to them enough, did they decide to ditch God? Or perhaps they never truly cared in the first place. I happen to think that if a person stops coming to church altogether, maybe they never loved church, or Jesus, in the first place. I am not saying you must attend church to be a Christian. I'm saying if you don't care about church, God's bride, you cannot care about God. The problem with many teenagers in today's society is that they simply want church to match their opinions and desires, and when or if it fails, they bail out. They never attempt to change anything.
The bottom line is that the majority of those who spend a fair amount of church and then drop out never really cared about the church or God. They attended church only for their friends, and when their friends stopped coming, they stopped coming.